Friday, December 29, 2006


perhaps there is some myth i got that image from, and it will come to me. i will know it as i know myself. yes. there you are. welcome.

that is how it is, i have an idea, a phrase, a poem and the world evokes a sigh of certainty. knowing. some call this de ja vu. a glitch in the matrix. it is a frequent part of my existence. i walk in my dreams sometimes. they come into being around me. i hardly notice it anymore, just a nod. it's a comfort, really.

so my hair is now passing my waistline. and i've noticed some folk when they invade my space, they get snagged by it. hence the spiderwoman tag, like i'm carrying some great web and catching flys in it. they apologize and disentangle themselves. i should probably be the one apologizing, but who knows? maybe someone can ask ms. manners for me, not that i'd listen.

my poetry shindig got changed from the 29 to the 30 kids, so if you'll be in nyc, come hear me. it will be wild. i've nearly got my set locked in.

my resolution for the coming year, i publish.

the time has come. i will pursue it. i will do the work necessary. it is not that i haven't wanted to do this work in the past, i just never felt the time ripe. the fruit sweet. the season full. as i do now.

my best christmas gift this year is an acceptance letter from paterson literary review for two poems. more have since come that show some promise of making it into secular journals. i shall throw my hat in the ring and see what happens.

i sat with a literature student at a christmas day dinner i attended, the only real conversation i had. and she read two of my poems, ultimately, and said,
they're strong.
she interned in the nyc publishing industry this past summer so i think she is a pretty good judge of nyc strong. my gut tells me it is time. to listen.

there is something about pressure that i've been wanting to get to. for an artist, pressure is as necessary as for diamonds. we produce more when the pressure is on. but i also do not think those who produce under certain types of pressure (for particular markets, etc) may be producing their best.

my main exhortation to artists is, hone your voice. KNOW your voice. let no one dissuade you from it. when you know it, you can do no wrong by it. or allow any violence to come to it. it becomes a part of you.

my take on editing is this. if you are working with an editor who does not understand your voice, for whatever reason, run away!

editing, is to hone a writer's voice. to help them communicate clearly. not to create some freakish brainchild of a writer who can't or won't publish their own works. i'm not down on editors who don't write, i'm down on editors who make you sound like them. like the perfectly crafted sentence is the be-all of good writing. when it is not. you know it isn't. i know it isn't. why listen if what you know in your gut is your true voice.

this is problematic for those who know their voice but have not matured. we were all there once. we were unformed, gelatinous writers who needed prodding and critique. yeah, yeah. it's all good. but the process of writing is an education in itself. the process of creating is an education in itself. when you stand before a crowd and read your works (for poets this is arguably much easier) and they move with you. laugh at the right times. engage. then you've hit upon something. even if no one else gets it.

if you are reading and a deadpan audience will not come alive, there are two possiblities. you need some help. you're in the wrong crowd. reading to the wrong folk. though, i think a good writer can manage a tough crowd, a great writer can manage any crowd. it's a question of delivery at that point. certainty, again, knowing your voice.

one thing about being here in ny that has made me understand the benefit of being physically present is, my two poems would not be being published now, my voice would not have changed as it has, if it had not been for me moving to ny. i had peaked in texas. the poetry scene there is not the type i could be challenged by or grow from.

here, you'd have to be dead not to grow. and if you have a thick skin and certainty of voice, the sky is the limit.

so this year, spiderwoman publishes. that is my resolution. if you meet me, and i tangle you up in my hair, well, don't say i didn't warn you.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

end in sight

finally an end to this year, which has been a mix of the good and bad. made some new friends, lost some old. wrote some books, edited some books, bought some, gave tons away. moved some, stayed some. got lost many times, found many more. joy came to me, and left me, and came again. in the end, i think it all turned out well. or will, at some point in the future. i can't see.

i know the resolution for the coming year, i guess speaking it out loud will commit me to it, so i'll give myself a few more days to think on it. see if i didn't hear incorrectly (it has happened on occasion).

i have yet to count my coppers. tally the year, line them up and see how far they stretch. the tiny ribbon of road to carry me toward joy.

i don't know. that much has not changed. but i hope. i believe. i trust.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


at least i have this comfort, nearly everyone i talked to, or email, is in recovery mode from the holidays. it is nice to be around people and play nice. but it is utterly exhausting. and today i just want to get untired.

i'm not sure what it would require, but i took a nap today and before i drifted off, it was silent (save the hum of passing cars) and i said,
thank you God for silence.

i was jolted from my twelve hour hibernation this morning by the leaf truck. these do-gooder parks and rec people have nothing better to do than drive around and suck up all the tree leaves.

we went to feed the ducks last week, and that damn leaf truck was there, sucking up the leaves in the yard. kudos for their hard work, but sometimes i swear the machinery in this town is too much to handle.

once, the leaf guys sat out front of my house and talked on their cell phones. if they handn't moved i would have called. i'm becoming like a crotchety old man. but my silence is eradicated by the rumbling machinations of that damn truck.

i didn't tell you this, but my girl and i were walking through town one day and i saw a swan fly overhead. i thought i was dreaming. but it is hard to mistake them. then, i kind of didn't really believe it, because it was too magical to be true. i never went looking for the swan.

turns out, the swan lives at the duck pond where my girl and i were clogging up the pipes of several assorted canada geese and mallards, not to mention the damn gulls. we fling our arms out to send them flying away, but one had this piercing cry and i had to feed it. it spoke to me. so i had to feed it.

anyway, the day i didn't get to go to the intensive, i was riding along and looked out at the pond, and there was the swan. graceful, elegant. calling to me.

we've been back twice to feed it, but it has not been there.

it eludes me. but i will keep watch.

it has no mate.

but beauty like that can't stay single. so that will change. i hope my swan comes to see me again, but it seems to only appear when i need it. like a unicorn. i can't touch it, or get close to it yet, i must not be pure enough in heart.

perhaps someday.

but for today, my only wish is to be untired.
and to see my swan again.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

parish eye candy

okay, so maybe it wasn't about that at all, but it made me snicker to say that phrase, so i'll leave it. hopefully you'll see the humor.

i showed up for evening services at my small chapel tonight and the LEM (lay eucharistic minister)/acolyte who is in charge of a great many technical details, such as which dressings go on the altar and podiums, decorations, and church fanfare. so i walk up to her tonight and she says,
hi, why aren't you dressed?

i didn't know i needed to be.

you're an acolyte tonight.

that was the first i heard of it, so i look down and say,
do i need to change my shoes?

no, you're fine.

i had on brown clogs (i adore anything i can slip my feet in and out of. in texas i just wore wool sox with them, and made it all winter. here, if it ever gets cold, i hear it gets wicked cold up here--only 50 degrees today--i will need real winter shoes, but for now i broke out my flipflops for morning service

i was running late, as usual, and step out of the aisle to exchange the peace with the priest and he looks down at my bare feet and exclaims

where are your shoes?

over there, i never wear shoes during service.

and he hugged and kissed me. i only wish i'd had time to fancy up my toes but i hadn't thought they'd be out in public again. but it's been warm kids, unseasonably warm. after service i did tell him,
i've been coming to your church for how long now and you just noticed i don't wear shoes?).

anyway, i take off down to the basement where the acolytes, lay readers and chancel choir dress before the procession. tonight was a lessons and carols service before the high mass.

it was an exciting time. helen, beautiful helen dressed me. i am not used to the strange snappy things yet. and tying the cords around my waist.

i sat in the back of the church for the carols and lessons, then processed in with the rest of the acolytes (there were seven of us) a full choir (sort of, i didn't count them but when we went for the eucharist, we filled the entire circlet around the altar, it was fabulous).

so tonight, i got to sit perched up high in the arms of God. and look out over the priest, the congregation and the glory of a christmas service.

i felt sad and lonely when i walked in, when i processed to the front, i felt like the bride of Christ i kid you not. without being all religious, i truly had a rough morning, lots of baggage. but this evening, all dressed in white it felt like i was somehow redeemed. and i guess i was.

i had the silliest grin on my face the whole time. i know the whole mass now (some of the choir members were impressed), and the only bits i really miss are when to genuflect and when to bow.

at the convent, the nuns bowed whenever they sang the holy, holy, holy Lord song. they don't really do that here, but i noticed tonight at the high mass there was more bowing going on than i've ever seen.

our congregation is aging. i'm one of the younger folk, and as i sat up there looking out over all those who came, i couldn't help but smile and think the priest put me up in the arms of God so i could be a bit of eye candy. but that probably had nothing at all to do with it.

singing the songs of christmas, we doused the lights and held candles for silent night, hearing the organ, and just being with a church family who was warm and welcoming was what i most needed.

it made me not miss my family so much. made me, for a moment, not long to be near those who are far from me. and that is quite an accomplishment. i was perfectly content.


another day in another year i am apart from family. i never thought it would be this way, that i'd spend these holidays as i've spent so many, alone with family. just the three of us. no big deal. no great fanfare.

my sister, mom, aunt, cousin, and assorted relations made tamales yesterday. i could hear them in the background when i called. it was a tough moment for me to be here, so far from those i love.

so i will find some glimmer of sunlight, some ray of hope to cast my gaze upon. and be at peace. i will fight for peace today.

my sister sends me a memory, (i'm having trouble uploading). of when we were children and together. christmas was a grand affair. and the memories pain me with their sweetness.

i wasn't going to go into it. i hadn't even shed a tear about it until i started writing. but i thought there might be some other soul out there who needs a word of comfort today. just like i need one.

i will let myself be lost in the liturgy of the day, and found in my child's eyes. in my husband's eyes. where i belong.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

from the abundance of the heart

i wish there was some way i could make it all make sense to you, but there isn't. i can't. all i can do is be here. listen. soothe you with my presence.

i know it's not easy to let people in, but you have to. trust me, i tormented myself for years in my head, and it took letting someone truly love me for me to understand that i am, in fact, the beloved. as are you.

it won't be easy. anyone who says it will be is lying.

it won't make sense, it never does. that is why we have each other. to explore questions. to get through the long dark nights together. that is why we are here in this land of toil. for each other.

being present is often much more difficult than checking out. i realize how checked out i was in my early life, sure the pain warranted my checking out, but i missed so much. i remember a few flowers though. a few moments of beauty that reached me in that distant place in my head i would go. a few words of kindness, and faces i grew to love. i remember them.

i wish i could tell you i won't let you down, but i will. just as you will let me down. it's part of the deal. it's the way it works here on this fragmented rock we call home. we crash through our days trying our best to be kind (some days more than others).

sometimes we get to share a bit of light, a bit of goodness. a bit of mercy. those are the moments i live for. even if my month is punctuated by darkness, there is always a point of light somewhere to be found. just look for it. hear it in the birds, see it in the trees, let the warmth of sunlight reach you, there where you are.

i know it is tough. i know you want to give up sometimes, but don't. i, for one, am glad you are here. and would mourn your absence.

let me hear your voice, it is all beauty to me.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


it's late, i'm way tired. but i can't sleep. tried. an hour into the attempt, i opted for ye olde keys. figure i got something to say if i can't fall asleep (or i'll come up with something since i'm here, your call).

knackered is a word i've heard a bit lately and it is how i feel. wiped. utterly. one friend i'm getting to know here in ny commented,
you guard your time.

and i do. fiercely. i have not written here much of late, some by intent, but mostly because i have so much going on. i try to only do one homeschool excursion per week, factored in with other run of the mill excursions, it works out to a couple days out of the house a week. the other times, we are at leisure to go to the library, or be about the house, whatever we'd like. and that is how i like it.

running around in traffic, getting lost, they hold no allure for me. if it weren't for the people waiting at the end of the chaotic drive, i'd not venture out. i'm content to be about the house.

the old style of homeschooling. staying home and doing school. seems there's a term out there that is: carschooling. something i could not do.

i say no to a great many things, so when i have to exert monumental amounts of energy (for me, that is), to be about the town and relatively decent to my fellow man, that i can do that. i don't like being frazzled when i arrive places. or frantic when i have to get out the door.

but i'm tired now. it's very late, and i just can't seem to catch any zzzzzzs. so i figure i needed this little cyber chat to soothe me into slumber.

i've been thinking a lot about the people i like the most, those deeply centered types. spent the better part of the day with one (and i hope i didn't rub my bad vibes off on her), but she gracefully managed her house full of guests and seemed at peace.

that's all i want really. that deep core of peace. i don't got it. (i was thinking, wouldn't it be great to have a bad grammar day, when we just use atrocious grammar and get it out of our systems? it would be fabulous if you ask me).

hyper-drive is more than just a luminous core at the center of the space ship enterprise. sadly, it is, appears to be, my core, at least to a small degree. the only way i can combat that tendency to freak out is by copious amounts of down time. silence. stillness.

hard to come by in new york. there is hardly anywhere unpeopled here. saturday when i went for my hike, i ventured off alone. i was on a trail that i probably should not have been on alone. i kept thinking, as i nearly tripped over a stick that was buried under leaf debris, this is how people die. no one knew where i was because i was supposed to be by the lake, not in the woods. but i had to get in there. to see the place unadorned. to tread upon the carpet of mulch which once twittered in the breeze. i could hear the last dry souls clatter, it was that quiet. i sat by a brook for a while and listened to the babble. i saw ferns holding their own against the cold, and wondered if i was the green mossy growth clinging to the monolith boulders protruding from the mountain. if i had found sheltering nooks where precious little could grow, carpeting the hardness with a lush green plume of spongy softness. or do i do myself too much credit? it was not so starry eyed a thought as it sounds. i was thinking, moss is so transient. so easily torn in great swatches from that to which it clings. nothing can hold it there against the rend. while the boulder stands for all time. steadfast. immovable.

but i've gone off my point. if i had one.

one thing i did not mention (and i tell you everything), is i went to an exhibit in the natural history museum called butterfies in winter. paid fifteen dollars to get in, and i'd pay it again in a heartbeat. though it was ten thousand degrees and humid as the day is long, it was sheer delight. no butterflies landed on me, but i saw there, the atlas moth--giant of the winged world; zebra longwing; many others i don't know by name and will likely never see in their natural habitat. it was the kind of display i find immensely gratifying.

amidst all the stuffed animals peering at you with glass eyes, snarls forever frozen on their faces, these gentle souls wafted up and down without a care in the world.

the butterfly lives to reproduce.

not a bad gig if you ask me. not too different from humans. though we don't get about with such ease, or style.

i long for the butterflies of spring. the long cold to end. the deep silence to begin afresh. and me to find some place in it all. my place. at the center.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

respector of persons.

it hits me every sunday. the great gap between where i am and where i want to be. how i live my work a day life and how i am exhorted to live.

what has really changed since this time last year? have i embraced joy, or merely made a show of it? does my life run on a precharted course, or am i able to set my will and change my stars?

a man came in and sat behind me at church today. i gave up my third row pew because a priest (my sister's favorite), has a tendency to occupy it before i stroll in. so i shifted to the other side of the church as it felt like we were all stacked up on one side of the small chapel and soon it would start to list then take on water and we can't have that (yes, i really live my life this way).

so i now occupy the front row of the right side of the church. when i sat there one sunday i realized the cushion is folded over and the front row holds the various books we fumble with for the liturgy.

behind me sits a man who sporadically attends. he reeks of nicotine. it is an overwhelming presence when he takes his seat.

today when he came in i had to check my thoughts about who is and is not in the rows around me. i had to press on past judgment and bow before God whom i probably shame with my petty thoughts.

at the exchange of peace (when everyone walks around and says,
peace of the Lord be with you,
shaking hands and greeting one another), nicotine man came into my pew and wanted to bear hug me.

i would not let him. i held my arm out and blocked him from moving in. then pushed him out of the aisle as i went to shake the hand of another.

i hugged penny, my living model of joy, close to and nicotine man looked on from the row behind. i felt terrible. there are only two other men at church who hug me, penny's husband and the priest. oh, and red, a WWII vet.

why these souls are allowed to hold me, i don't really know. why i will melt into their embrace, i don't know. but sometimes, i can't explain it.

i want to be the face and hands of Christ, but not inappropriately. i will be trained as an acolyte soon, so my days in the pews will be sporadic. i'll be assisting the priest in his duties. which rocks!

i've always wanted a view from up there. now with our rockin' organist and a nearly full choir, i couldn't ask for more. except maybe for that great gap between me and the ideal to close, even just a bit.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


sometimes i get so far into my week and look back, i've not written much (though i've written quite a few poems), i've not blogged or written prose. things seem a little undefined.

thursday my girl and i were in yonkers, and the fog was hanging over the palisades cliffs making the hudson river banks indistinguishable. gulls circled over head and sounded their piercing cry.

as we were driving down to the museum, i kept saying,
look, it's so beautiful. look at those old buildings.

even in the starkness of fall, it is gorgeous here. i keep getting lost, but it is less harrowing to me now than it was. i keep getting found and that is reassuring.

on friday we went to an art class and my girl created two clay horses. she's in that horse phase. always talking about horses. the child has never owned one, or rode one much, but she is intent on learning about them and working with them. she keeps asking for one, as if we could fold up the legs and put it in a closet at night.

maybe, when we go back to texas.

we keep telling her. who knows. i don't know the first thing about horses. but i'd learn if i had to.

so she created two little clay ponies and painted a canvas (9x6) at this art class. we'd been searching for an art class that emphasized creative freedom. no agenda. just access to materials i don't have lying around the house. granted, i'm willing to get a lot of materials, i've given her access to a great many things, but i can't do it all.

driving there, getting lost, running late, stuck in traffic, i'm pretty frantic by the time we arrive.
this is the last time we're coming here, so enjoy it.
i said. (such a fine mother. aren't i?) but i hate getting lost. i hate driving to classes. and i'm sure the child hates having me all freaked out.

so, i walked in at the end of the class, and she was there, fashioning a mane for her horse. had the head/neck/body configuration for her pony beside her.
i'm making a pony,
she said.

finish up then.
i'd calmed down by then. sitting alone in the car. ah, the silence. watching squirrels waving their bushy tails, grooming, preening, strutting. one red squirrel waved his tail back and forth like a serpentine streamer, repeatedly. he seemed to be very dramatic about this. and then he runs along the fence before me and i see the other grey squirrel. perky, bushy tail.

i said.
it makes sense.

they preened for each other for a while and then grey squirrel skittered away. red squirrel pursued a few steps then returned to waving his tail and strutting his stuff.

the big dilemma with me and homeschooling is, do i enroll her in a class and potentially get exposure to something i wouldn't normally teach her. a method, a person, a technique. or do i not enroll her and wing it, as i'm inclined to do.

after the museum trip on thursday and the grumpy old docent who barked questioned at the kids (i figure, it is a life experience, she's learning how to deal with difficult people types in these settings. and seeing i'm not such a crabby, shabby teacher at all).

friday's venture out was polar opposite. the artists at this venue rescued this old church from decay and restored it. creating a place for shows and classes, to enrich the community. they did not have funding, but will alone. my kind of folks those artists.

we have passed on a great many class options because i was looking for this class. i want my girl to be encouraged to hear her own creative voice and not yield to the dictates of some teacher. it was worth the wait to find this gem.

today, we go hiking in bear mountain. such a lovely setting. i shall ditch the troop at some point (i the rogue leader, who helps out not much of late), and enjoy the silence. you see, silence and a troop of girls doesn't go hand in hand. so i must away. i must get apart to hear myself think.

my girl will enjoy the hike and i will have some time either by the lake or in the mountains to be. creativity comes after silence. after stillness. after sojourns like these. i need a psychic rest, and today, i go to find one.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

first nyc featured reading

i always knew i'd get my featured read (but i thought it would be a lot sooner than this, i'm overconfident sometimes). i always knew it would come.

what i never could have imagined in my little noodle of a brain was that my first feature would be in NYC. that is mecca for poets.

i'm pretty astounded. i'm ready. i'm able to do this. and if you can come, it will be at bluestockings in nyc on january 29, 7pm.

what a rush!

i'll go float around my house now. just to enjoy this.
it will likely be an alternative audience, and i'm stoked about that.


Monday, December 11, 2006

harsh light of day

well kids, i did submit but it weren't pretty. i was angry and pouty and basically just a brat. then i got a migraine.

i didn't talk to my husband until some time sunday night i was so mad. juvenile is more the appropriate descriptive, but i couldn't let you think i was soooo mature, because i really wasn't. i tried. but i was infuriated.

i was the elder brother pissing and moaning about the shabby deal i got. my husband just avoided me, which is wise when i'm belligerent. my sister and best friend were the only ones who could talk me through such anger.

it has been a long while since i've been so angry about anything. not many things to get that angry about. but it raised all manner of issues and exposed many deficiencies in me, my marriage, my life.

one gory specimen table of my mind had all these hideous things on it, and i kept circling it, eyeballing them. examining them.

but then there was the small voice that was reason. i kept trying to reason with my angry self. kept trying to keep my mouth shut (which is the best i can do at times like these).

so i did not pass with flying colours. i did not pass with even a passing grade. yes, i submitted. yes, i stayed home. but i glutted it of any benefit by anger.

it reminded me how flight is an easy response for me. i like to leave. i like to go away from the things that trouble me. i like to delve deeply into a project and escape troubling reality.

i was grateful when a dear friend needed an editing job on sunday and wouldn't you know it was about couple relationships. how easy it is to enter the wounding of another without realizing it.

how easy it is to attribute so much evil to my husband when he is just doing his job. there is no way this man could provide everything i want. no reason for me to expect that. but i did hate sitting at home doing nothing (i should have found something to do rather than stew in my juices), than be about something productive.

but when i wash up on the shores of my failure, i come before the Lord and say,
You who see all, and know all. i have failed again. i have fallen again. have mercy on me.

i am reminded of just how much i need God. what a wretched soul i am with God, how much worse would i be without? i would be insufferable then. i scarcely tolerable now.

so do not be decieved by my brave words. i did not treat my husband well. i was juvenile. i pouted. i didn't speak to the man all weekend.

all i can do is try to do a little better next time.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

defiant submission

this standing on the inside type of submission is not worth squat in my opinion. so i've been trying to deal with my anger and frustration about submitting my will.

it helped that i had a jam packed alternative schedule of being with my girl's troop helping a community organization with the gift tree gift sorting. that only took a while, but was a wonderful distraction. i needed it.

i called one of my best friends and told her the whole story and she said,
don't go. i know that does not help, but i can't help feel there is some reason why you should not go.

that is incredibly helpful.
i said,
because you listened to my side. heard my heart. know my whole story. that you still feel i do not need to go, or should not go for whatever reason is acceptable to me. i understand it. you're not just being authoritarian because you can.

you see, from my perspective, this ability to have any plan thwarted at any given moment is pretty frustrating. of course i don't look at it that way until a plan is thwarted.

but when this happens, i have to believe what i have always believed, husbands are given authority and are our covering for a reason. that we do not understand those reasons entirely is part of the deal.

if joseph stood there and questioned the angel when he was told to flee, i don't know how things would have turned out. he just got up and went. we are all under submission to something, the question is what?

so i was angry at my husband yesterday, spitting nails angry. and instead of feasting on bile by being home and brooding over my anger, i went out and did something utterly redemptive for someone else. my daughter was glad to have me along, and though i might now be sick again (oh joy), it kept me from walking out from under my covering. and that is all that matters.

i could not yield to my husband, but to his position. that had to suffice for me. i could not do more. once i did that, i struggled with my defiant submission. it is not good enough that i am standing on the inside. defiant submission is no submission at all. so i wrangled that one to the ground and finally pinned it. exhausted, we both gave up.

i'm not claiming any kind of triumph here. except maybe the kind that just moves forward. pick up your things and keep walking. i didn't knock down any barriers in our marriage, probably resurrected some old dead ones, in fact. there are still all manner of issues here, but at least i'm relatively reasonable today. i'm willing to find some peaceful way of dealing with my utter frustration and try to move forward.

i can't say i don't want to be there. i'd be lying. but i'm here. what am i going to do now? how am i going to treat my beloved today? that is all that matters now.

Friday, December 08, 2006

the little things

for all my brave talk about submission i'm fighting my husband on this poetry weekend. it matters to me. immensely.

being so close, physically. having the time and child accounted for. all that stands between it and me is the money. (that and my husband actually agreeing to let me go).

so the money issue is really a non issue in my mind. do you know how long we went without work? do you know how grueling that was? this is nothing. this is just a little glitch in the cashflow situation. i've even offered to get a part time job to repay the man for releasing me to go.

he still does not budge.

come up with a plan.
he likes plans. things delineated. variables identified.

i like to wing it. to fly out and free and see what happens. this is a great stumbling block in our togetherness.

the thing about it is, these chances do not come but once in a lifetime. i feel this to be one of those great crossroads for many reasons. for my poetry. for my marriage. for my life. which way will i go? what will i do?

i have seen myself saying,
release be damned.
and going.

this, while immediately satisfying my desire, does not address my need for covering. and that is what gets me. that is why i hesitate. i must be under my covering. the submission thing again. damned submission. blessed rebellion. that is what it would be if i went without release, rebellion. am i willing to go there at this crossroads?

some part of me cries out,
yes. go.

but i won't. i'll wait. i'll refuse rebellion at every cost because that is what i must do more than be published, or meet more poets, or whatever.

the crossroads of our marriage for me is this great disinterest in my becoming. (or seeming disinterest). granted i've gone to a great many things this year. we are in new york. so i should be "satisfied." i should be content. and in some ways i am. but i can't get around the fact that we will sit and write poetry all weekend. a whole gang of us. even if i leave there with no friends, i will have the work. i will have that intensive therapy that poetry is to me. for me. and i will have expressed myself in a way no one else can.

it is a mystery what will come at such an event. what kinds of works will spring forth. i guess i could sit down at home and write. but the actual poems are not the end of the deal. it is the community. the laughter. the swans i seek.

do i let this go and spend a weekend tiptoeing around my house while my hubby works on his classwork? do i idle about killing time, when there is so much else i could be doing?

i have suggested letting me pay him back for this excursion. i'm willing to get a part time job to fund my poetic endeavors. but he does not seem open to this option either.

so you won't even let me pay you back?


he was getting angry. i don't often encounter my husband's wrath. but i'd stir it up for this. i am not giving this up without a fight. it matters that much to me.

and if i pursue it. get my way. will the price be exacted in my marriage? will it be rockier than it has been of late? is that even possible? would i be willing to make that sacrifice? and my daughter who weeps when i go away for four days, how much weeping would result from my pushing this?

part of my dilemma is the powerlessness of it. i have no power in this situation. no equal vote, no rights it feels. and that troubles me. perhaps more than anything.

issues of submission often involve laying down one's preference. but i don't feel like my preference is even being considered beyond the dollars and cents of it.

do i press on? do i go anyway? do i submit? how does that look and what does it mean?

as always, i don't know.
but shall soon find out.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

seed crystals

(wrote this and wouldn't you know, i got my seed crystals. if you know me, then you probably know. if not, i will tell all at some future point). peace.

listening to zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance again. that book rocks.

he mentioned seed crystals.

when, in the process of scientific experimentation one (or a chemical/substance) reaches a point of saturation, sometimes it takes a seed crystal to get things moving. this can be a stirring, a slight scratch on the beaker, another chemical. it is the thing which releases fecundity.

in discussing waiting and the seeming stagnation (or saturation level) one hits, it struck me. this is what is happening to me.

i've so many possibles. maybes. mightbes. out there that i've reached my saturation point and am in need of a seed crystal to get me past this point. what that is, i do not know. but when it comes crystal waves, he called them, will emanate out. the possibilities endless.

this is probably sounding weirder to you than it does me. i'm all right with that.

i've reached these saturation points many times. the moments before the poems will come. the pregnant waiting for the birth.

i remember being so weary of pregnancy (and so HUGE i looked like i would pop), i wanted to force myself into labor. this can be done. i obtained the means necessary. but my body sort of kicked in and i didn't have to do that myself. (long story)

the seed crystal then would be the mucus plug popping out. the gush of water flowing after. then baby.

my deprivation took place, unbeknownst to me at the time, during the last week of the church liturgical year. i thought it curious that a whim on my part would be so significant to the liturgy. the sermon that sunday of my deprivation was about looking back and examining the year past.

i slept a lot. more than twelve hours a night for seven days.

i was very tired. and let myself rest. let my mind relax.

i find one week into the rush and hurry again, i'm grappling with the same doubts and struggles of the week before the deprivation.

my deprivation was an incredibly calm and lucid time.

my sister told me,
you sound really good. not like last time.
(i cheated and called her. the phone is sort of a grey area for my deprivations).

last deprivation was in june. a lot going on then. a lot of pain to reckon with.

this time, i went with it. sure i cheated a bit, but not a great deal. and i didn't beat myself up for it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

to go or not to go

i'm struggling today with a decision i do not have power to make. i think sometimes my friends think i have no (or very few) submission issues with my beloved. i have many.

this weekend is a poetry intensive with the matriarch. i've been invited. i've been told there is no cut off for me and if i can make it, i will be welcome.

i would give my i teeth to go, or as i told my dear poet friends, i'd cut off my right arm to go (though that would hamper my writing a bit, which may relieve some).

you see, i've been the odd bird, the lone poet for so long. to be surrounded by poets for even a weekend, creating beside them, on a level playing field. we all get the same prompts. the same fifteen minutes to write a poem. we all eat together at the same table.

there is nothing like it.

if i go, i miss a play my daughter has two parts in. my best friend asked me what i thought about that, i said,
i'm willing to look like a bad mom for this. that is how important it is to me.

though we've spent a good bit of cash on my poetry endeavors here in the empire state, i am asking for a bit more to get me to this intensive.

my husband is no scrooge. he is no penny pincher. he has been and will always be a gracious giving soul. my issue is not with him, necessarily. rather, with the desire in me to be about what i was created to do. with those of similiar ilk.

i can't tell you how bored i get of marketing talk. of crafting the perfect novel. of writing memoirs that sell. fine. i get it. but i don't want any part of it. i want to write poems. i want to be around those who write poems.

my entire life, i've met in person, very few poets who are actually doing what i do. in dallas there were probably thirteen poets i knew. i saw them once a month perhaps if i was lucky, and not all at the same time. i did not have an ongoing relationship with any of them. we were merely cordial.

here, while the numbers are somewhere in the fifties at least of those poets i've met, there are still very few i'm in actual contact with on a regular basis. that must change. how does that change? by being around them. by getting to know them.

i'm the peculiar type that needs hours of time, entire blocks of time to get to know people. i don't just let the first person who bumbles into my presence befriend me. i wait. i wait for the right soul. the right stranger. the right poet.

this takes time.

soon, we will leave new york and i will have only the relationships i forged and who knows if they will withstand the test of distance. when i am not able to lend a shawl to the cold or run an errand for a tired poet in need.

my husband looks at the dollars and cents of it. i can't blame him. he knows the numbers, i don't.

i look only at the poets. the poems i won't write. the intimacies i won't experience. such great losses for me.

but i will grieve it and get on with my life.

if i cannot go, i cannot go. no sense crying over it. i will try to be mature about it. but what does that really mean? not feeling? not grieving? not longing to be there?

no, i'll do all those things. i'll get angry, i'm sure. but i'll submit to whatever the decision will be. he tells me i wasn't told no enough growing up. i guess now is his chance to deal me a few nos. and i'll try to accept them with grace. and be at peace with them.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


if you ever have to register anything in the empire state, be prepared to sign over your left kidney or first born child. they want documentation like i've never seen before. something about points. six points.

you know about the points

the lady behind the information counter asked.

no. what points?

you need six points. a passport is six. a birth certificate zero. a driver's license from another state, two.


so i'm scrambling to find six points and have come home with a armload of paperwork to complete. the way they talk to you, the desk people, like you should know better.

ignorance of the law is no excuse, i know this. but assumption of ignorance as a rule is just demeaning. i'm trying to be nice, humble. meek.

ha! none of that really works for me for extended periods of time and i have to go back to the dmv at least two more times.

i'm getting a passport as soon as i can. six points. no questions.

they're favoring the foreigners

my beloved said.

or people with money,
i replied.
what is a poor person going to do with a passport?

before we left texas we contemplated getting passports. we didn't. we drug our feet as we do where government documentation is concerned.

so now, grrr. i'm grappling with the desk clerks and ignorant of many of the rules.

these things make my blood boil. i'm trying not to wax hormonal but it's tough. i'm sure you can't just assume people are who they say they are these days. but the logistics of a semi-permanent move and personal freedoms pale in contrast to these governmental rules and deadlines.

i'm trying to wrap my head around it all. and remain humble.

my husband said,
they may throw you in a cell.

he says this to freak me out. which i'm not sure if it is just an ethnic thing, or if all humanity freaks at the thought of going in to deal with government agencies. these are the times i feel fiercely unprotected, when i stand before the desk clerks, paperjockies, those who will determine if i'm in compliance or not and how much i actually owe.

these fears rise up and i can only try to reason with them.

i've done nothing wrong. it will be well.

i keep telling myself that.

i've done nothing wrong. it will be well.

perhaps one day, i'll believe it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

beautiful disaster

it is easy to feel unlovely. so many pressures in daily life. so many burdens. so much to think about. where will the money come from? can i say no? can i say yes? what's around the corner? when will it arrive? all these the fodder of a downcast appearance. the trick is learning to ponder in peace. to live with the question, or live the questions as nouwen says.

i, like you, do not waft around feeling myself beautiful. sometimes, i'm dressed better and it is easier to think this. sometimes, i'm in a good mood, at peace with the world, it is easier to think this.

saturday at a poetry workshop/open mic, i was just feeling peaceful and content. alive. where i wanted to be. who i want to be. and a photographer whom i'd been chatting with as he set up the camera for the broadcast taping of the featured poets, his back to me most of our discussion as he taped down cords and fixed backdrops who had blown a, rivet is not the right word, the gold cording fasterners, used on clothes and tarps. hmm, can't think of the word. anyway, not important.

his job, this cameraman is to not only film all the fine poets who frequent the place, but he gets to sit with them one on one after their reading and ask all the questions he'd like of them.

they're not intimidating,
he said. after he told me he is a poet.
when i've got a camera on them, they get very humble.

an old av trick, i guess.
your moral then, carry a camera?

he said.

but i've found that most of the poets i've met, and cared to meet, have been most gracious. generous spirits. encouraging. something, perhaps about living with eyes wide open. a heart accessible. most poets, i think, watch everything. even if they don't appear to. we are not journalists, but scientists of observation and word combination. what a weird way to describe poetry. anyway, i'm listening to an awesome poet read, eyes closed so i'm not distracted.

when he finished, i watched him exit the room because i wanted to remember the details. all of them.

ming, the photographer, walks up to me at that point.

may i take a photo of your face?

i was quite surprised,
i said.

i felt lovely that day, simply because these are my tribe and people. all of them. even the ones who don't really know what they're doing. even the ones who are so heady no one can really figure out what they're doing.

if i were to meet a poet in an ideal situation i would be half way up a flight of stairs. and so i was.

i started up the stairs to the harrison club, a gorgeous building in paterson, nj that houses the poetry center at passaic community college. i'm not versed in architecture so i can only stammer about what the place is like. grand staircase entry which splits and doubles around to the second level. busts all around. art collections on the walls. rich dark wood paneling everywhere. high ceilings. a lovely venue.

so i'm midway up the first flight of stairs and look back over my should to see the matriarch.

i said.

hi doll.
she replied.

the strapping young buck of a poet bounded up the stairs to where i was during our greeting and i turned around and said,
hello nick.

he then stretched out his hand and gave me a not too firm handshake, but not flaccid either. it was just right. up the stairs we went. wafty skirts, my long black leather jacket and drapy scarf. it was a cold day so i had on black cowboy boots my best friend gave me.

ming, sat not two feet across from me and took several pictures. i wasn't sure what to do. look at the camera. look over his shoulder, look away. so i just sat there and looked square into the camera. my face began quivering because i'm not used to that kind of pressure.

he said my face was lovely, so round.

i don't wear makeup
i said.

yes, that is what attracted me. and your teeth. lovely.

i smiled my crooked smile, and he gave me his card. the poet photographer.

i don't know how the pictures will turn out. i'm pretty blemished. he closed in right on my face filling up the whole camera frame with it just below my chin, just at my hairline.

i've grown fond of the picture not of my face. portraits more of my hair than my big round head. so to have someone wanting to photograph my face was a curious feeling indeed. and i wasn't sure, later, why he asked at all. but it was an enjoyable experience i won't glut of all pleasure doubting myself.

it is a curious thing to feel unlovely. then to remember a moment feeling lovely.

today i'll clambor up and down the stairs to the laundry and remember a few moments this weekend where i was singled out. when i was, for an instant, photographed for better or worse from the front. blemised. imperfect. serene. crooked smile and all. we are all really beautiful disasters. some of us just make peace with that fact.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

laugh much and often

you irritate me mom.

you irritate me.

that's the basic cycle of irritation.

that's a great line, i'm going to have to write about that. can i write about that?

(i've taken to asking a bit more as she has reached the age where her life is not merely fodder for my writing habit. she loves to hear herself written but i am now trying to ask a bit more.)

this is how conversations with my daughter go. she asked me once when leaving for the library,
how will we get there.
to which i replied,
i'll put you on my back and we'll crawl there.

she laughed. which is really the only response that matters to me.

she reminded me of the time we were ascending the large hill to the library (not that large, but she's 9, so it's large to her), and she was complaining. railing on about the hill. i finally said,
what do you want me to do, put you and the bike on my back and crawl there.

you understand, i say this a lot.

i'm around more young mothers these days. little ones underfoot. i'm so far from there. so far from having to brood over every ounce of milk taken in, and every output (thank God!).

one mom said to me,
you're way ahead of us.

really? i'm used to brining up the rear.

i've been in the passenger seat for most of this mothering journey. learning from my sister, friends, and now the good cyberhomeschoolers of ny ( is the bomb. john munson rocks. i trust him). so now to be more of the tour guide, the one saying, here's what's coming is a bit odd.

i've grown silent in these older years. won't talk to groups of people. don't feel that what i have to say need be heard by more than one set of ears at a time i guess. though here, where i just jot and tiddle, i can speak at will. or write as, the case may be.

my daughter is developing an irreverent wit which pleases me immensely.

we went to the natural history museum and found the ornithology room. a frightful room full of dead birds. so lackluster, most with covered over eyelids. all looking like an inverted turkey dinner with feathers, stuck to a board with a number.

let's go mom.
my girl kept saying.

wait. i want to see these birds. this is the only time i'll get this chance.

but i'm in a curious place with animals which i won't get in to now. so we round the corner and there are flanks of furs. tragic really. we're looking at these draping bits which were once animated and the chipmunk, all racing striped is staid.
at least he's in the lead,
i said to my girl.

she laughed.
come on mom, let's get out of here.

i said. as i scoured the furs. porcupine. a few numbers without furs. lynx, tufts and all. bobcat.

a couple got away,
i said, pointing to the empty spaces.

she laughed.

that is really all i want my girl to remember, and it seems to be working out well for me. the laughter that permeates our moments of humdrum. sure we have our tension. my beloved says we bicker more now than ever. i've always believed she never had a sibling (and since i'm largely a child at heart, i take to playing the part of bratty sibling more than i should).

one thing i realized though, during this deprivation, when i am afraid, concerned, bored whatever, i take the role of clinician and analyze it through writing. even something brief. thereby parting myself from it. i could not do this all week and had a tough time at the onset of uncomely emotions reeling it all back in.

but all ends well.
and we laughed, much together.
that is really all that matters.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

la raza

let me tell you about george. the banker.

tuesday, my girl and i go to the city. we're all duded up for a cold day. turns out, we could get to the natural history museum without ever seeing the sky. there is a subway entrance, which while convenient, is kind of odd. but we were grateful, no where to get lost when there is an underground entrance. and getting lost is always a threat with me. but i am readily and willingly found, that is a good thing.

so we hop on the last train to the city, and i am standing eye to eye with a hispanic man dressed to the nines. he was a sight to behold. first of all, any man who can see eye to eye with me has a rough row to hoe. he's short. i'm no taller than 5'1" on a good day. even my sister is passing me by leaps and bounds. her tall family is stretching her somehow, she used to only be an inch taller than me, but now she's a full three inches taller. i should tell this to my girl, it will please her. i'm trying to detail the merits of being short to her. as she will likely not pass my sprout of a sister.

so george is standing there, shiny black shoes, a navy pinstripe suit. a gold ring on his right pinky finger. hair closely cropped. but swarthy. the dark eyes i know so well. they looked down into my crib, they look back at me now, they are the kind of eyes i looked everywhere for growing up and were nowhere to be found in mainstream media, ads, beauty campaigns. i'm glad to see much changing in that realm for my girl's sake.

counting crows has a song about a spanish dancer with big dark eyes, a beauty, he went on to say. i ran into the lead singer one night as i was visiting my brother in hollywood, and thanked him for those lyrics.
very encouraging,
i said. he didn't seem to care either way. but it has not changed my appreciation for the image.

anyway, i asked him, george,
what do you do?

you see we're standing not two feet apart in the entrance to the train, it was packed, we had only one stop to go and i'm rolling a contraption with our jackets and backpacks in it (my people run hot, so we peeled off our outer layers as soon as we got on the train. all the people, the heated space, we were melting. what can i say, it's the latin blood).

are you a lawyer,
i asked.


ah. good. what do you do in finance?
he was so finely dressed i had to know. he worked in manhattan. and looked the part. but he was still a hispanic. someone of my culture and heritage. i knew him though we were unknown to each other. but these are all assumptions i'm making and he probably felt no kindred to me with my long braid, tennies and homeschool t-shirt.

business. risk.

he was a fragmented fellow. probably not used to being questioned by strangers. but i'm partial to fragments.

we were escorting an older gentleman,
first time on the train,
i heard him tell the lady going to hoboken in the row of seats ahead of us. he was headed to penn station. this man then asked me,
what is the learning community?

a homeschool group.
the back of my shirt reads "learning by living" so i had done a spin in the small area, i'm standing in, across from george with my daughter beside me. looking up eyes all wide with wonder. listening. taking it all in.
we're getting out on that side mom,
she said.

so i spun around to face the other doors, only to see people packed like a choir looking at me. all kinds of people. tall white people. blonde men. women in those stay-puft marshmallow jackets, white women, cold blooded types. short brunette women many with ipods, most just expressionless watching me talk to george or looking out the window. with the uncomfortable closeness of an elevator. and the jarring movements of a sluggish escalator, we a band of merry commuters waited for the doors to open.

i didn't get the name of the man we were escorting to penn station. he was grandfatherly. headed to 47th and 6th i think.
a nice walk will do me good,
he said as we discussed getting the subway with other passengers.

so we pull into penn, and george turns to leave. i said,
tell me your name.


ah, george, the banker. i shall have to write about you.

he smiled. and we parted ways.

but i wanted to speak spanish he evoked so much familial feeling for me. it was strange. if i knew some crazy thing to say (which i do) and had more than five minutes, i would have. but i didn't. saved my dignity. and, well, have a story to tell.